I doubt that anyone manages to live their life totally stress free. If you do congratulations, you would be one of a very few unique people. Regardless of the position we hold or the work we do, most of us have stressful situations that we need to deal with daily.

The Cause of Stress

Let’s look at some things you might be stressed about at work:

  • Hard deadlines
  • Difficult co-workers or boss
  • Uncertainty about your job
  • Uncertainty about whether you can succeed at a project
  • Competition, office politics, interpersonal conflicts
  • Not having enough time for family or personal life
  • Being overwhelmed by too much to do

    There are many more possibilities other than the above. The interesting thing is in all these examples the cause of the stress is really the same thing:

    We are attached to how we want things to be. We have an ideal about how each  situation should be, and we are clinging to this ideal causing the stress.

Unfortunately, this happens to most of us all day long, every day. Our ideals about reality are constantly unmet, and so we stress out. It builds up and can become a serious health problem. So, how can we deal with this?

Dealing with the Cause of Stress

If our attachment to an ideal is the cause of our stress, then can we just not have ideals? Regretfully too simple. It is literally impossible not to have ideals. The ideals come up, unsolicited, in our active and ever-hopeful minds.

The way to deal with the cause of stress is to:

  1. Notice that you’re feeling stress or frustration,
  2. Mindfully notice your attachment to an ideal
  3. Loosen the attachment, finding love for the actual reality of the present moment.

Let’s look at these 3 situations in turn.

First, you must notice the stress. Learn to see your frustration or worry about something as a signpost, a flag that tells you what’s going on. In this way, stress becomes a positive thing, because it’s letting you know that something is going on. It’s like a notification system on your phone — instead of ignoring the notifications, as we usually do, we can drop into ourselves and deal with it.

Next, you must mindfully notice your attachment to the ideal. That means saying, “Hey, things aren’t meeting my ideal and it’s stressing me out. What is my ideal?” It’s probably something that is more secure, stable, comfortable, controlled than what you’re currently experiencing.

For example, if you’re overwhelmed by too much work, your ideal is probably that you have a very controlled, comfortable amount of work, and that you’re on top of it all. That would feel much more secure, stable, and comfortable to you.

Unfortunately, comfort, control, and security aren’t what life provides us. It mostly provides us the very opposite — something chaotic, unpredictable, uncomfortable, unstable. We can either be upset by this, or we can embrace it. We can hate all of this about life, or we can love it. There is a choice.

Finally, we can let go of our attachment to this expectation or ideal. We can say, “This ideal is not helping me. Clinging to wanting things this way is harming me. I hereby open my heart to many more possibilities.”

We can be open to the possibility that we’ll do poorly, or lose our jobs, because even then, we’ll figure something out and life will be just fine.

Loosening our attachments is about realizing that life doesn’t have to be one way, our way, that we can be open to life’s way. It’s about learning to love everything, bad stuff and all. It’s about being curious about life, about others, instead of judging life and other people as bad.

And then it’s about working from this place.

  • Have too much to do? Pick one task and do your best with it.
  • Have an annoying co-worker? Find compassion for his/her struggles, and be curious about what they are going through, and talk to them compassionately and empathetically about your conflict with them.
  • Worried about losing your job? Focus on doing your best, while preparing yourself for the possibility that you might need to find another job.

Many people won’t like this solution, because it means that they don’t get the ideals they want. Most of us want to control life to be the way we want. And that’s fine, if it works for you.

What we are suggesting is being open to the many other possibilities, opening your thoughts to what life offers instead of what you want it to offer, being curious about what’s really in front of you rather than judgmental.

Contact Prime Strategies today, our team can help identify your stress triggers and work with you to use them as a positive rather than a negative.